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Browse Torah Articles: Sefer Shemot: Parashat Vayaqhel: Pure Sedaqah

Contributed by: R. Ezra E. Miztahi

"Take from you, an offering for Hashem. Everyone who is willing is to bring to Hashem an offering of gold, silver and bronze" (Exodus 35:5)

"Qehou Meetechem Teroumah" – We read in the beginning of parashat Vayaqhel, that Moshe tells Bnei Yisrael in the name of Hashem to bring a Teroumah, or offering in order to partake in the building process of establishing the Mishkan. Why does the Torah need to add the word "Meetechem" "from you"? Would it not suffice to write "Take an offering"?

The Gemara in Masechet Qama (68a) states that merchandise that was stolen, or more politically correct, acquired in indirect means, and the original owner has not yet given up on that merchandise, both the thief and the owner lack the power to sanctify the merchandise as holy and donate it to the Miqdash. The thief cannot sanctify the stolen merchandise because it is not legally his. The owner cannot sanctify the stolen merchandise because it does not physically reside in his domain, even though the merchandise is rightfully his.

The Gemara tells us that this is why the Torah states "Qehou Meetechem Teroumah"; In Hebrew "Meetechem" can be extended to mean "from what you have, legally", and the Gemara includes another connotation, "Meetechem" take from what you have, next to you, residing within your domain. Only when both conditions are met, can one sanctify the item to Hashem.

The Maharsha adds an important lesson. He states that in his day, there were many Jews that acquired wealth not in good faith, using all sorts of methods, some invalidating the name of Hashem (Hiloul Hashem), yet they then donate the funds to the community, to serve as honor from them year after year, and receive a "Mi Sheberech" at the time of their significant donation, and this is not a true donation but rather a missvah that stems from a sin, and this wealth will not sustain itself.

One has to be knowledgeable in the methods of halacha when conducting business. There are many lessons one can take from the above-mentioned Gemara, but the most important is that we must educate ourselves in halacha of business so not to error. Only this way can we ensure that our donations are pure, and the zechout and merit we will receive for them will be pure and everlasting.
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